When I was teaching in the classroom, I lost my way and my passion for the job. Constant data collection and analysis, goals, targets, paperwork… rah, rah, rah, caused me to lose sight of why I got into teaching in the first place – teaching the kids!
It’s now that I’m not in the classroom, but still firmly entrenched in the education industry, that I have the time and clarity to reflect on why I decided to become a teacher in the first place. Ignoring joking comments from friends and family that it was for the 9-3 hours and all of the holidays (cough, cough!), I know I became a teacher because of the influences I have had along the way.
If you were to ask me who my favorite teacher was throughout my schooling career, I could tell you without hesitation. It was Mr. Humphries. He was my Year 6 teacher, and I thought he was just fabulous. When the class lists were being handed out at the end of Year 5, I crossed my fingers and promised everything I had to the class list Gods that I was going to be in Mr. Humphries’ class… and I was!
Mr. Humphries was just the right amount of fun, mixed in with a clear distinction of where the line was. He pushed me to do better in my writing and I can vividly think back to a day when I was writing a piece of text about my Dad. Mr. Humphries kept sending me back to my desk saying, it needs more descriptive language! From anyone else, this could have been very annoying, but because of my 12-year old unwavering respect and my yearning to want to please my favorite teacher, I kept going back, determined to add more and more. I even remember going in at a lunchtime to keep writing. I really believe that I fell in love with writing in Year 6!
I also remember Mr. Humphries reading us the book, A Fortunate Life. Some of my favorite times were coming in from lunch and being allowed to sit on the floor while he read to us. I remember not wanting him to stop… Mr. Humphries would get to the end of the chapter, and there would be collaborative groans for more. I remember that book being thought provoking and making me feel uplifted, but frustrated at the same time.
Mr. Humphries didn’t treat us like little kids – I mean really, A Fortunate Life is an autobiography about a young boy in Western Australian who basically has every hardship there ever was in life thrown at him, and he still believed he had ‘A fortunate life!’ But, that is one of the things I liked the most about Mr. Humphries – he made us think and question like the young adults we were verging on becoming – and yet still have fun. I can’t tell you the name of one other book we read in primary school – but I still know that one!
I have had wonderful experiences with many teachers throughout my schooling and teaching career, and sadly I have had experiences with teachers whose passion for the job has burnt out. Whether it be the system they are subjected to, or just their love for the job is gone, it is easy to see teachers who make kids light up when they walk in the classroom and sadly, those teachers that don’t light up when they walk into a classroom themselves.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, I hope we all have a teacher that we can look back on and think – Wow, they did an amazing job and I am a better reader, mathematician, teacher, person because of them!
I grew up in a small country town, so I can see Mr. Humphries – probably in the aisles of Woolies or Coles, and say thank you for being that teacher for me. I can only hope that when I was teaching, I was able to bring some of the fun and spark to my classroom, that he bought to his own.